Akhmat destroyed Zenit and scored two. But the champion staged an unreal comeback in 15 minutes!
Anatoly Romanov September 20, 2023, 19:43 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
The match in Grozny ended in a draw and a penalty shootout.
“Zenit” together with “Akhmat” played an incredible match in Grozny. After winning on penalties, the Saint Petersburg team got two points and remained second in the group. The champion is one point behind Baltika, which occupies first place.
Zenit had two starting players from the last RPL match (Erakovic and Alip), and Akhmat had three (Celikovich, Kovachev and Oleynikov), so the teams played with second lineups. And it must be said that there was not a big difference between the benches Sergei Semak and Miroslav Romashchenko. The first 15 minutes generally passed with complete advantage for the southerners, who seemed more motivated. Perhaps the failure of the light blues at the beginning is a consequence of the tactics chosen by Semak. Zenit played in a 3-5-2 with a low defense and tried to attract the opponent to press to take advantage of the free spaces, as they do in the championship. But it’s one thing when Wendel, who accelerates attacks, and the fast Cassierra and Izidor are on the field, but how can you run behind the back with Erokhin and Sergeev, whose strengths are playing in the area? The visitors constantly lost the ball under the high pressure of the home team and conceded two goals after two shots on goal.
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“Akhmat” opened the scoring already in the 4th minute. Flank midfielder Kovachev moved to the semicircle, received the ball and shot from under Renan. Hit it right in the bottom corner.
After another 10 minutes, Oleynikov made it 2:0. Erakovic and Sutormin acted as spectators in their own area, allowing Gbamble to receive the ball and Oleinikov to shoot freely. Alip, having created depth and switched to Konate, was also unable to block the shot.
Akhmat knocked down Zenit. But these two failed goals and the forced replacement of the injured young prop Vasiliev with striker Cassierra helped the champions change their game and turn the match around. Zenit raised its lines, took over the territory and activated such collective speed that the rival simply stopped keeping up. The balls began to fly one after another towards Oparin’s goal: three hits, three goals! In the first case, the combination between Do Queiroz and Cassierra was completed by Sergeev. It should be noted that even at the beginning of the match, when the team was not doing well, the Brazilian was perhaps the only bright spot in Zenit’s lineup. Finally, Do Queiroz shows himself in an official match.
After this, Zenit broke through Akhmat’s defense in the center. Here another newcomer to the St. Petersburg team, Kovalenko, scored an assist. And Sergeev again remembered how good he is in the area, brilliantly resolving the episode.
Zenit’s third goal came thanks to Krugovoy, due to force of circumstances, ending up on the right wing. It was convenient for the left-hander to feed Cassierra into the area. Akhmat’s tired defense acted according to the principle “some in the forest, some in the forest”, and the Colombian, left without tutelage, scored his eighth goal of the new season. This is where Cassierra got to work!
Romashchenko responded to his team’s failure with a nice substitute: Kamilo instead of Kamilov. The Brazilian had to help restore order in the midfield. However, the beginning of the second part suggested that it would be a continuation of the first. Erokhin had a great chance: he missed from a lethal position. But then “Akhmat” also improved, and at the end of the match hour another Brazilian newcomer, Daniel Junior, signed the other day, made his debut in the Grozny team.
The teams created chances after the break, but could not score for quite some time. It was as if the entire goal limit had been used in the first half. Camilo’s header from a free kick hit the post. But 20 minutes before the end, Akhmat equalized the score, scoring a goal with perseverance. The cool Fernández did not block the center and Renan released Ilyin. The striker, a football graduate from Saint Petersburg, corrected his comical mistake on the last day of the RPL.
This fun match could have ended with any result. From this match, the teams of Semak and Romashchenko had every chance to surpass Spartak and Paris NN, who faced each other by nine goals. Akhmat and Zenit took a total of 31 shots (15:16). In the 90th minute, Izidor escaped one by one, but Bystrov stopped the blue-white-blue newcomer even before the penalty area at the cost of a red card. The locals avoided conceding the goal and everything was decided in the penalty shootout.
Vasyutin received hits from the “point” of Ilyin and Junior, and Oparin received only one hit from Do Queiroz. The goalkeeper gave Zenit the victory.